Day 1. Lake Titicaca – Uros, Amantani
The day begins with a transfer to Puno´s port. Here we start our excursion to Amantani Island, by boat (about three hours in length). Lake Titicaca covers 8,400 sq. km. and sits at 3,810 meters above sea level, making it the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake has deep, crystal-clear waters which are always sparkling, and the intense sun at this altitude is always shining, which creates an intense, bright blue sky; the lake and its islands are a truly magical place.
We board our boat and head to the “floating Island” of the Uros (about two and a half hours distant from Taquile).
The Uros may seem a bit commercial, but nevertheless... you will still have a great experience. The 50 or so floating islands are permanent structures, built using layers of totora (reeds) that grow in the lake. Today, descendants of the original Urostribes have mixed with the Aymara, and now speak the language of the Aymara. Around 2,000 descendants of the Uros were counted in the last census, but only a few hundred still live there.
We continue towards Amantani.
On arrival, we settle in at our host family´s house to rest and to eat. Amantani can easily transport you back in time. We enjoy simple and yet delicious meals prepared by our host family. The act of enjoying a simple meal this way, prepared without electricity, has the power to change the way you look at the world. In Amantani, we also visit some Tiwanaku ruins, and we hike to the top of the island for the Pachamama ritual. Island inhabitants present a traditional dance performance in the evening; visitors are routinely offered traditional clothes and invited to participate in the ceremony. Before our departure, we advise you either offer the hosting family some staples or help with a gift which will be really welcomed!
Overnight stay in Amantani.
Day 2. Titicaca Lake – Taquile
On the island, one is greeted with an early-morning sunrise; sunlight streams across the lake and the island! After breakfast, we bid farewell to our host family.
On our return, we stop at Taquile. Taquile has been inhabited for thousands of years by Quechua-speaking islanders who live almost untouched by what we would call modern life. Our guide shares with you some enlightening stories about the use of different huts and their particular social meaning. Taquileños are famous for the quality of their hand-woven textiles and clothing. Oddly enough, knitting is performed exclusively by males, starting at about age eight. By contrast, only women spin yarn and weave. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed that “Taquile and its Textile Arts” were “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. After lunch, and a peaceful stroll down the hills of the highland.
After arriving back in Puno, a tour 4-star hotel awaits, and it’s time to relax.
Day 3. Puno to Cusco: The Manco Capac’s Route
Casa Andina Koricancha
Ruta del Sol
On Day 3, we head towards the imperial city of Cusco.
We first stop in Pukara, 3,876 meters above sea level (12,716 feet). Pottery making is the focal point of Pukara, and it is home to one of the first civilizations in southern Peru (200 BC – 200 AD). The Aymara-speaking culture flourished in that region, that of Lake Titicaca, on the Collao Plateau. The pre-Hispanic city is notable due to its many pyramid-shaped buildings. Next we take a tour of the Kalasaya Archaeological Complex (ceremonial centre of the Pukara culture). We then move to the Pukara Museum Lytic.
Further along the route, and later that day, we arrive at La Raya pass: the highest point of our journey at 4,310 meters (14,172 feet). Here, the bus pauses as we get out, breathe a little fresh mountain air, and take photos of llama and alpaca that graze nearby. This pass marks the junction of the cordillera and the origin of the Vilcanota knot. The sacred river Vilcanota has its origins here.
After a brief pause at the pass, we enjoy a buffet lunch in Sicuani.
Our next stop is Raqchi, also known as “the Temple of Wiracocha”. It’s a very large, rectangular, two-story roofed structure, 92 by 25.5 metres (300 by 84 feet).
And the last stop on this day is Andahuaylillas, considered the “Sistine Chapel of Peru”. Constructed by Jesuits, this delightful church dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The walls of the church are covered with a large number of frescoes, the highlight being the painting entitled, “Virgin of the Assumption”, a part of the Cusco School.
We arrive at the imperial city of Cusco, at our hotel. Travelers are free to explore Cusco on their own.
Day 4. Cusco city tour and Inca sites
End of the Tour
Cusco City Tour
Breakfast is served at the hotel, then our local guide conducts a tour of Cusco. “Hatun Cancha Rumi” (“Stone of twelve angles”) is one of our destinations – a very large block of granite featuring 12 corners (!), and resting in one of the larger, more famous stone walls of Cusco. In addition, we take in the main square and the majestic cathedral there. A bit later, we visit the Korikancha, the “Temple of the Sun”. During Inca rule, Korikancha was the most important place of worship. The Spanish, however, eventually built their own structure on top, called the Convent of Santo Domingo. Later in the day, we drive to and visit the following Inca sites, outside of Cusco:
- The Kenko ceremonial centre, regarded as a holy place by the Incas.
- Tambomachay, an Inca site known as El Baño del Inca, “The Bath of the Inca”. Consisting of various aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls running through terraced rocks, the exact function of the site is unknown. Historians have speculated that it may have been a military outpost or perhaps a type of spa for Incan political elite.
- Puca Pucara, a military ruin. The fort consists of large walls, terraces, and staircases and was part of the defence of Cusco, and known as the Red Fortress.
- Sacsayhuaman, a fortress strategically built on a hill overlooking Cusco, is famous for its enormous carved stones; some of the stones stand over 9 meters high (30 feet) and weigh over 350 tons.
Transfer to Cusco airport to board the flight to Lima, or to your hotel of choice. If you elect to spend a few extra days in Cusco, we will be delighted to organize supplementary excursions for you to the breathtaking Sacred Valley of the Incas, or a visit to the majestic Machu Picchu.